Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Okay, We're Full Up Down Here!

Less than a week to go on dip net season, and I'm confident that I speak for all the inhabitants of the Central Peninsula when I say "Enough already!" For the last couple of weeks, we've been inundated down here with the fisherfolk. Just turning on to the Sterling Highway means taking your life into your hands, the grocery stores are packed, and as for visiting any of the local breweries/brewpubs, good luck! I managed to slip into Kenai River Brewing last Friday to do a book signing, in the hopes of aiding owner Doug Houge in offloading some of the inventory he was so nice to buy from me. Doug told me that for the last week, they'd set a new record for food and beer sales each day. It's great for our businesses down here, but for the rest of us, man, what a hassle!

All the breweries around the state seem to be working at full throttle, trying to keep up with the summer demand. I'm frequently seeing posts about new beers being released, many of which seem to be made with fruit. So if you haven't checked out your local brewery lately, it's probably a good idea to do so and see what they might have on tap that's new.

Speaking of new, Anchorage Brewing Company will be two beers in cans on Friday, 28 July: Crazy Ray's IPA and Lines Double IPA. These will be the first two beers off the brewery's brand-new canning line. Saturday, July 29th will be The Culmination Festival; if you're planning to attend, you'd better have your tickets already, as it's sold out. Gabe Fletcher has also released some additional details about The Deal with the Devil Day, October 28th. It's been decided that sales of the boxed set will be first-come, first-served, one to a customer, so if you want one, you had better plan on standing in line to get it.

Photo courtesy of Anchorage Brewing

Also this Saturday, the 5th Annual Beer & Bacon Fest will be happening in Anchorage:

At Midnight Sun Brewing, long-time brewer Davy Cacy has left to attend diving school. The brewery farewell party for him on July 17th, at which they tapped his last brew, Walk the Plank West Coast IPA. I'd like to wish Davy the best of luck in all his future endeavors.

Congratulations to Odd Man Rush Brewing in Eagle River for winning the Bear Paw President's Community Service Award from the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce.

Photo courtesy of Odd Man Rush Brewing

Congratulations as well to Bearpaw River Brewing of Wasilla for winning the 2017 Foraker Award for Best Family Owned Business from Alaska Business Monthly Magazine.

Photo courtesy of Bearpaw River Brewing

Girdwood Brewing now has a crowler machine, allowing it to offer its beers to go in freshly-filled 25.4 oz. aluminum cans.

Photo courtesy of Girdwood Brewing 

Seward Brewing Company and Bleeding Heart Brewery have brewed their first collaboration beer: Imperial Chowder Stout. Ingredients included potatoes from Palmer and oysters from Ressurection Bay.  Should be interesting, to say the least...

Photo courtesy of Bleeding Heart Brewery
Tickets are now on sale for the 6th Annual Capital Brewfest, to be held at the Juneau Arts and Cultural Center on September 23.

Tickets are also on sale for the 7th Annual Kenai Penisula Beer Festival on Saturday, August 12th, at the Soldotna Sports Center. You can get them online or at one of the local breweries. As you can see from the flyer below, there will be over 20 breweries in attendance.

I'm still doing Drinking on the Last Frontier, my monthly radio show, on KDLL FM 91.9 Kenai-Soldotna. My next show will be broadcast this Saturday, July 29th, at 11 AM. On it, I'll be interviewing Bobby Wilken of HooDoo Brewing Company in Fairbanks and Matt Pyhala, the Festival Coordinator for the Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival. If you miss the show's broadcast, you can find a podcast of it on

Eat your heart out, Edward R. Murrow...

That's it for news this time around. I've only got one new beer review this time, though I just pulled a couple of beers out of my cellar. I haven't opened them yet, but I'm sure I will have before my next blog.

Kenai River Brewing's Grapefruit Lil' SIPA: I reviewed the base beer, KRBC's Session IPA or Lil' SIPA, back in my 9/28/2016. I liked it then and I've enjoyed it frequently since then. This version is infused with grapefruit, obviously. It poured a hazy red-gold color with a small white head. The aroma had strong grapefruit notes, almost completely overwhelming the contribution from the Citra hops. The mouthfeel was light and the carbonation was good. On the palate, there's a ton of grapefruit flavor, but it interacts well with the bitterness and citrus notes from the hops. If you really love grapefruit, you'll certainly like this beer. If like me, you're not terribly fond of it, you'll likely find this beer not to your taste. 4.5%, 65 IBUs.

That's it for this blog. As mentioned in this blog and my last one, there are many beer festivals happening in the next few weeks, so it's a good time to be making plans about which ones you'll attend. Maybe I'll see you there!

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

It's Dip Net Season on the Kenai

I guess I should start off by apologizing; it's been almost a month since my last blog. Summer is, of course, a super-busy time for all Alaskans, compounded in my case by a visit from my daughter, son-in-law, and two grandkids, but that's really no excuse for letting this blog languish for so long. However, it's currently dip-net season here on the Kenai, which means it a wonderful time NOT to go anywhere or do anything away from home, so this should be a good time to get caught up.

Tickets for the 7th Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival are now on sale. The festival will be on Saturday, August 12th, from 5 to 9 pm, at the Soldotna Sports Center. Tickets are available at Kassik's Brewery, Kenai River Brewing Company, St. Elias Brewing Company, or on-line at Tickets are $30 General Admission from 6 to 9 pm, or $50 for the VIP/Connoisseur Hour, starting at 5 pm. For entertainment, Meg Linsey from Season 9 of The Voice has been confirmed, along with other live bands. The early session is limited to 200 tickets, so if you are interested, you should get your before they sell out.

Speaking of selling out, if you were planning to attend The Culmination at Anchorage Brewing Company on Saturday, July 29th, I hope you have already purchased your tickets; it's now officially sold out. Anchorage Brewing has also announced that this year's Deal With the Devil Day will be October 28th. Here's what owner Gabe Fletcher had to say about it:

 This year's release will be VERY special... We will be selling a custom wooden box set containing six different barrel variations. All packaged in wax-dipped 375ml bottles. These batches were aged for 16 months. Here are a list of the barrel varieties:
  • Glenmorangie Scotch Whisky
  • Apple Brandy
  • Woodford Reserve Double Oak
  • Rum
  • Cognac
  • A special double oaked version that spent 1 year in Cognac and then was transferred into freshly emptied Woodford Reserve Double Oak for 4 months to add even more complexity.
All but one of these are only single cask agings, meaning there won't be much! We will have around 340 box sets available.

If you'll be in Fairbanks in early August, it looks like there will be a new festival there. Here's the flyer for it:

click to enlarge
49th State Brewing Company in Healy will be holding its annual Augtoberfest on 11 & 12 August. I've never been able to attend this festival myself, but by all reports, it's a great time. Here's the flyer for this year's festival.

click to enlarge

It's a bit of old news now, but Baranof Island Brewing Company in Sitka finally opened the taproom in its new location on Saturday, July 1.

As long as I'm covering old news, the new 907 Alehouse & Grill in Anchorage opened its doors on June 21st. I haven't had a chance to visit it myself yet, but it has a lot of beer on tap and the menu looks pretty good.

HooDoo Brewing in Fairbanks has become the first brewery in the Alaska to significantly harness solar power for its operations. Here's their press release:

HooDoo Brewing Company, began the new rooftop solar installation project as soon as snow melted off their brewery this April. The array of 60 solar panels was energized in mid-May, and will produce up to 110 kilowatt hours of electricity per day, or about one-third of HooDoo’s power per year. Additionally, it will reduce the CO2 produced by combustion by roughly 1.5 tons per month during the summer season. 
“We are a community-focused company,” owner and brewer Bobby Wilken said, noting an emphasis on providing a product and service for the people in his hometown while being conscious of the environment. “We look at this solar project as pushing our community forward. We’ll generate a nice chunk of renewable energy that runs our meter backwards and anything extra goes back into the community’s grid.”
The project is the product of a partnership with local solar company, Renewable Energy Systems of Alaska. The company spent most of the winter building out supports, reinforcing the trusses and roof of HooDoo’s 1970’s Alaska Pipeline-era building to support the weight and mechanics of the new solar project.
“They’re 100-percent committed to doing it right,” Wilken said of RES. “They’re great local business people, and they’re doing it right for the right reasons.”
Energy generation will fluctuate seasonally, due to HooDoo’s subarctic location, but will feed into the community grid year-round. Over 3,000 kilowatts have been generated from the project so far, harnessing Fairbanks’ 20+ hours of daily sunlight in June and July. Data is gauged by a real-time, cloud-based monitoring system.
“The people of Fairbanks make our product sustainable and viable, but anything else we can do to push the boundaries is absolutely fantastic,” Wilken continues. “The brewing process is water and energy intensive. The quality of our beer is our first priority, but we’re always looking for ways to make our process more reliable, more efficient and it doesn’t hurt to make our environmental footprint a little smaller.”

Cooper Landing Brewing Company made a post on July 4 stating that they hoped to have the licensing process completed and to be selling beer soon. I'll let you know when I hear more.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company will be holding several events in both Anchorage & Fairbanks this week:

Anchorage events
Fairbanks events
Congratulations are in order for both Barnaby Brewing and Alaskan Brewing Company. The former took a Gold Medal in the 2017 US Open Beer Championships with its McSteamy California Common, while the latter took a Silver Medal with its Raspberry Wheat.

Finally, I'm still doing my monthly radio show, Drinking on the Last Frontier, on KDLL 91.9 FM in Kenai. It's broadcast on the last Saturday of each month at 11 am, and then the recorded shows are available on the KDLL website. If you haven't checked it out yet, I'd really appreciate you giving it a listen and then giving me some feedback on it. There will also be a fundraiser for KDLL this Saturday, July 15th: the 5th Annual BBQ, Burgers and Blues at the Vagabond Inn from 4 to 9 pm. Kenai River Brewing donates the beer.

It's been almost a month, but I've only had four new beers in that time to review.

Boulevard Brewing's Changeling Dark Sour Ale: It poured a semi-translucent ruby color with a small, cream-colored head that dissipated to a collar. The aroma was mostly tart cherries, but there was a hint of brett funkiness. The carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was medium. On the palate, there was a nice balance of the tart cherry notes and the brett elements. Bottom line: a workman-like but not an exceptional sour. 7.3% ABV, 20 IBUs.

New Belgium Brewing's Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA: New Belgium's effort to re-imagine one of its classic flagship beers. It poured a deep, slightly red, gold color; very clear. Nice white head. The nose was primarily citrus and piney American hop notes. Good carbonation, light mouthfeel. The initial bitter attack was moderate, followed by lots of American hop flavor and aroma, before falling away to a nice finish. 9% ABV

Unibroue's Tout Le Monde Saison: Since I'm not into heavy metal, the Megadeath imagery on the label doesn't mean anything to me, but I'm always interested in trying a new saison.This one poured a clear gold with a nice white head. The aroma had the classic peppery, earthy Belgian yeast notes. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light. On the palate, the classic saison flavors were very nice, but the dry hops claimed on the label were nowhere noticeable. The finish on the beer was also a bit thin. Not a bad beer, but nothing that any of the better saisons out there (Dupont, Tank 7, Hennepin) have anything to worry about. 4.5% ABV, 22 IBUs.

Founders Brewing's Porter: I found this at Country Liquors in Kenai when I stopped in to pick up some Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale from the same brewery. It poured opaque with a big tan head. The nose had lots of delicious roasty notes. Carbonation was good, and the mouthfeel was medium. The flavor profile was as advertised on the label: rich, dark, and sexy! I'm always a fan of a good, robust porter, and this one certainly qualifies. 6.5% ABV, 45 IBUs.

That's it for this time around. I'll do my best not to make you wait another month for the next one. In the meantime, get out and enjoy the summer sun, attend some beer festivals, and have a good time. After all, it won't be very long before fall is upon us again.

Until Next Time, Cheers!